Thursday, 23 January 2014

How Important is Internet Anonymity?

First, let's split this into two areas: public anonymity and internet anonymity.

Public anonymity is for people who don't want the world to know who they are. Don't judge them for not wanting to be 'famous' as there will be thousands of people with different legitimate reasons, perhaps not wanting to be bullied for their opinions or not wanting to openly discuss something they can't come to terms with from their past e.g. they may have been abused and want to give support to other abused people without public admission of their own embarrassing secret.

Internet anonymity is where people sign up for a service, such as email, and don't want to register all their irrelevant personal details as this could be open to exploitation. It's bad enough that large service providers, such as google and facebook, monitor browsing habits and feed through adverts from the browsed pages or similar.

Yes it's important for people to remain anonymous, for hundreds of reasons. But it's also important to protect users from idiots (a collective term for anyone who persistently uses the internet for illegal, immoral, uncivil or just plain nasty abuse). I say persistently because anyone can make a mistake or two and such errors of judgement should be treated accordingly, with an apology and good behaviour forever after being a suitable means of punishment.

I'm not a god or the brainiest person on the planet so I don't have an answer for how to sort it all out. There are even levels of acceptable behaviour from one person to the next: some people are offended by swearing, others by bad grammar. Tips: on social media, choose contacts wisely, and where there is an opportunity of moderating content, use it.

Whatever the answer is, let's try to work it out without 'Big Brother' restricting what little freedom an ordinary person has.

Friday, 17 January 2014

re-thinking SEO support

I've read so much advice from Google and global SEO experts that there is no more storage capacity in my brain and some of the stuff has probably fizz-popped with overload, never to be recovered. So what have I discovered?

Here is some of the conflicting data:
  • websites with lots of in-links are riding high in the Google charts
  • websites with lots of in-links are being black-holed by Google
  • Google values websites with several pages, several words on each page, unique content
  • Google is starting to say that in-links are not so important
  • websites with good content but very few in-links are nowhere to be seen
  • Google values websites that have been around a long time
  • many older websites contain irritating out-of-date information
...and so on.

I've always tried to follow Google's guidelines but sometimes they are ambiguous and sometimes errors and misunderstandings occur. But... there are many small-business owners that are encouraged to use a range of tools from social media and blogging to reach as wide an audience as possible - companies that cannot afford to hire a Google guru; people who are enthusiastic about their products or services; ordinary non-technical people who will completely innocently raise the wrath of the mighty omnipotent one.

Plus, there are ordinary bloggers who genuinely stuff their posts with links to pages they like - not all links are created for commercial purposes. For example, if you find a fashion or travel website with pages that you love and want to share, you may create a whole list of links, e.g.
  • Google black T-shirt
  • Google black T-shirt
  • Google red T-shirt
  • Google grey T-shirt
  • Google black T-shirt
  • Google blue graduated T-shirt
  • Google maps blue T-shirt
  • Android T-shirt
  • YouTube white T-shirt
  • YouTube black T-shirt
  • Chrome white-blue baseball T-shirt

The foregoing list of [links removed] was not in line with Google's guidelines because (a) there are too many links to a single site and (b) this post is not about clothing.

What I could do, of course, is use rel=nofollow for each of those links.

I digressed a little there, so what conclusions have I reached regarding the support I offer to clients? None really. Not yet. I still know more about the internet, websites and SEO than a typical business owner so I shall continue to offer best advice but I may re-think the content of my monthly SEO services packages.

I've streamlined the SEO services over the years and no longer focus on link building via third party article submissions. In order of importance, I optimise website content, write a few blogs (both on-site and off-site) and set up / manage social media.

We also help clients manage their domain names, hosting and emails and, of course, website design and build for clients takes up the rest of the time.

Well, glad to have got that off my chest!